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NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota Owners 400 Betting Preview
It's back to a Saturday night race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit this week as it's a stop at Richmond International Speedway for the Toyota Owners 400 and the betting favorite at Bovada is Kevin Harvick at +500 -- little surprise as Harvick has been favored in most races this season.
The defending champion is Joey Logano. he used a savvy move to get around three dueling former champions in the final laps. Logano did it in unlikely fashion: By restarting fourth for the final nine laps -- in the non-preferred lane -- and slipping underneath Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon as the three cars in front of him went high on the track. It was Logano's first career victory at the track. He had only one top-10 finish in the previous six races at Richmond.
Tires were a major issue throughout the night. Some teams found they could only go 50 laps at a time until Goodyear's right-side tires began to show cords -- or severe wear -- which caused fires in the wheel wells of several cars. After a test last week, Goodyear has decided to bring a new multi-zone tread for the right sides for this race. The tire is expected to enhance grip. Teams will use the same left-side tires as last fall.
Richmond International Raceway is a three-quarter-mile oval with median banking of 14 degrees in all the turns. The racing result is the contact and fender-beating of Martinsville, with the feel of Charlotte due to the higher speeds. Over the years, the trio of flat tracks at Phoenix, Richmond and New Hampshire – layouts ranging from 3/4-mile to 1-mile – have consistently shown that if a driver is good on one, he'll likely be good on the others. Last season, Harvick swept both Phoenix races, and Logano and Brad Keselowski each won one race at Richmond and New Hampshire. In 2013, Harvick won at both Phoenix and Richmond.
Denny Hamlin says he's confident that he'll be in good health for Saturday night's race after neck spasms forced him out of the series' most recent event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin left Sunday's Food City 500 in the midst of a nearly four-hour rain delay after just 22 laps. He has won twice at Richmond, basically his hometown track.
Kevin Harvick (+500): After leading a race-high 184 laps last week at Bristol, Harvick got caught up in a wreck on Lap 311 that saw his streak of consecutive top-10 finishes end at 10 races. Harvick will look to bounce back at Richmond, where he has the best average running position (7.497), highest average of quality passes (32.9) and most laps in the top 15 (7,415) in the loop data era. Harvick needs just 50 more laps led to have led 1,000 for the season.
Brad Keselowski (+600): The last time the series visited Richmond, Keselowski led 383 of the 400 laps on his way to a dominating victory. The win followed a fourth-place run in the spring race last year, and Keselowski has led more than 100 laps in each of the last three races at RIR, leading 417 more laps than any other driver in that span.
Joey Logano (+600): An early accident with Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski derailed Logano's hopes to start the season with eight straight top-10 finishes last week at Bristol. It also ended his streak of 24 straight lead lap finishes in the Sprint Cup Series. Logano has a history of bouncing back from rough outings in short order. Case in point from 2014: Logano finishes 35th at Darlington and after the Easter break week where all national series were off, won this race at Richmond.
Jimmie Johnson (+700): Although Johnson has actually won three races at Richmond, he hasn’t shown his typical consistency. He has just two top-10s in his last seven starts at the track, finishing outside the top 30 three times over the same span. Overall, he ranks just 11th in driver rating and 12th in average running position at RIR.
Kurt Busch (+750): Busch has been running well at Richmond recently, and he has three top-10s in his last four races, including a seventh-place run last fall in his second start at the track with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Number of previous races: 117.
First Sprint Cup race: April 19, 1953, won by Lee Petty.
Last Sprint Cup race: September 6, 2014, won by Brad Keselowski.
Won from pole: 23, last time by Brad Keselowski in 2014.
Won from top-5 starting position: 65 times in 116 races (56%). The starting position of one race winner is unknown.
Won from top-10 starting position: 90 times (77%).
Won from 21st or worse starting position: 10 times (9%).
Worst starting spot for race winner: 31st, by Clint Bowyer in 2008.
Most laps led: 488, by Richard Petty in 1970.
Fewest laps led by a race winner: 1, by Cotton Owens in 1959, Tom Pistone in 1959, and Lee Petty in 1953.
Fastest race: 109.047 mph by Dale Jarrett in 1997.
Fastest qualifying speed: 130.599 mph by Jeff Gordon in 2013.
Most lead changes: 25 in 1991 and 1996.
Closest finish: Jeff Burton's .051 second margin over Jeff Gordon in 1998.
Most caution flags: 15 in 2003, 2009 and 2011.
From 2010-2014 a typical Richmond race had 13.3 lead changes, 7.2 cautions for 47.9 laps, and an average green-flag run of 43.0 laps.
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